A Jewish Refugee in New York

A Jewish Refugee in New York

Rivke Zilberg's Journal
Kadya Molodovsky, translated by Anita Norich
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 04/01/2019
ISBN: 978-0-253-04079-4
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Rivke Zilberg, a 20-year-old Jewish woman, arrives in New York shortly after the Nazi invasion of Poland, her home country. Struggling to learn a new language and cope with a different way of life in the United States, Rivke finds herself keeping a journal about the challenges and opportunities of this new land. In her attempt to find a new life as a Jewish immigrant in the US, Rivke shares the stories of losing her mother to a bombing in Lublin, jilting a fiancé who has made his way to Palestine, and a flirtatious relationship with an American "allrightnik."

In this fictionalized journal originally published in Yiddish, author Kadya Molodovsy provides keen insight into the day-to-day activities of the large immigrant Jewish community of New York. By depicting one woman's struggles as a Jewish refugee in the US during WWII, Molodovsky points readers to the social, political, and cultural tensions of that time and place.

Author Bio

Kadya Molodovsky (1894–1975) was one of the most well-known and prolific writers of Yiddish literature in the twentieth century. Born in Bereze, a small town in what is now Belarus, educated in Poland and Russia, Molodovsky was an established writer when she came to the United States in 1935. Known primarily as a poet, essayist, and editor, she published over twenty books, including plays and four novels.

Anita Norich is author of Writing in Tongues: Yiddish Translation in the 20th Century; Discovering Exile: Yiddish and Jewish American Literature in America During the Holocaust; The Homeless Imagination in the Fiction of Israel Joshua Singer; and editor of Languages of Modern Jewish Cultures: Comparative Perspectives; Jewish Literatures and Cultures: Context and Intercontext; and Gender and Text in Modern Hebrew and Yiddish Literatures. She is Professor Emerita of English and Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan and translates Yiddish literature, and teaches, lectures, and publishes on a range of topics concerning modern Jewish cultures, Yiddish language and literature, Jewish American literature, and Holocaust literature.



This novel invites the reader inside the mind of a Polish Jewish woman who has recently arrived in New York just after WWII began in Europe. She grapples with the twin challenges of being a refugee—agonizing over the fate of loved ones left behind and struggling to adapt to a strange new social, cultural, and economic environment, uncertain of her future.


 (Jeffrey Shandler, author of Anne Frank Unbound)

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Table of Contents

Introduction / Anita Norich

From Lublin to New York: The Journal of Rivke Zilberg, A Young Jewish Refugee / A novel by Kadya Molodovsky